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GlobalFlyer triumphs

Safely back to Kansas

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Steve Fossett and GlobalFlyer landed in Salina, Kansas at 1:50 p.m. local time (1950 GMT) having successfully completed the first solo round-the-world circumnavigation without refuelling. The success comes despite having lost 2,600lb of fuel which resulted in some debate over aborting the mission at Hawaii. In the event, favourable tailwinds compensated for the shortfall and allowed the mission to continue.

The Burt Rutan designed GlobalFlyer, sponsored by Virgin boss Richard Branson, crossed the California coast south of Los Angeles at 1400 GMT today after a nail-biting Pacific crossing. Richard Branson later said of the possibility of Fossett running out of fuel: "He's a great glider and so if he runs out of fuel before he gets here he will somehow, we hope, make it all the way."

In the end, though, Fossett sucessfully guided his craft back to its starting-point after 67 hours in the air. Upon disembarking from GlobalFlyer, Fossett said to Branson: "That was a big one." He then told the press he had a few more record-breaking projects on the table, but refused to discuss details.

For his part, a delighted Branson told reporters that Fossett "stinks to high heaven", before dousing the adventurer with champagne.

There are full details on the mission at the Virgin GlobalFlyer website. ®

Previous reports

GlobalFlyer enters New Mexico
GlobalFlyer over continental US
GlobalFlyer on a wing and a prayer
GlobalFlyer and Fossett take to the skies

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